Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mass Media, You Are Missing Something

Zimmerman was charged with murdering Trayvon Martin and was exonerated. If he had been charged with manslaughter he would now be in jail. The DA who just charged Tensing with murdering DuBose is known to have not the best (shall we say) ideas about race, and Tensing risks being exonerated.

Media excited that someone has been charged with murder after so many cops have been let off have missed something huge.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Environmental Studies at Rice

Hey are you thinking of doing an undergraduate degree anywhere? If you come here you can study Environmental Studies--we just set it up. It's a humanities and science combo and of course I'm teaching part of the humanities (and social sciences) aspect.

I'm really looking forward to it. Dominic Boyer, my friend from anthropology (we just finished a book, stay tuned!) and Albert Pope (architecture) and myself are team teaching the 101 type of class. We're teaching a third each. I'm taking the middle part. My part is going to be about how the humanities interfaces with all this ecology stuff. I thought up some nice exercises!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Speculative Realism in the Humanities: My Essay in the LA Review of Books

“UNLESS YOU’VE been hiding under a rock, you know that saying things about rocks is now something humanists are allowing themselves to do with increasing frequency. After 60 or so years of talking about how you can’t talk (directly) about reality, only about how to access (or indeed how to access how to access) reality, humanities scholars are talking about rocks, and not just (human) representations of rocks either. Indeed, you might find some of them talking about rocks’ representations of humans.” --read on


Monday, July 27, 2015

CFP for graduate conference my place

MODALITIES

You email submissions@modalities2015.com

I'm helping the students organize this. Should be excellent with excellent food and drink and an amazing keynote.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

...and for My Next Trick

“Consider the case of milk. Greeks enjoy their fresh milk, produced locally and delivered quickly. But Dutch and other European milk producers would like to increase sales by having their milk, transported over long distances and far less fresh, appear to be just as fresh as the local product. In 2014 the troika forced Greece to drop the label “fresh” on its truly fresh milk and extend allowable shelf life. Now it is demanding the removal of the five-day shelf-life rule for pasteurized milk altogether. Under these conditions, large-scale producers believe they can trounce Greece’s small-scale producers.” --Joseph Stiglitz

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Queer Green Sex Toys: Another Dark Ecology Snip

...that's the title of an essay I'm writing for a religion journal, haha--but it's also part of my argument in Dark Ecology:

“In a sense, all toys are sex toys to the extent that they enable links between beings and between a being. The threatening corniness of James Cameron’s Avatar reaches a peak in the living devices that connect the Navi to the biospheric Internet, as when they plug their tails into the skulls of flying lizards. Is it anything other than needless to point out the eroticism? The erotic wiring together of beings suggests the wiring between a being: the ultimate gnosis in Avatar would be to plug the tail into oneself . . . In The Joy there is an excess of links between a being over links between different beings. Is it too ungrammatical to say between the same being? Between the being that is oneself, even between thinking and itself. Although cloning is chronologically prior to sex, perhaps sex is logically prior to cloning. We consider here certainly not a heteronormative sex, but sex for its own sake whose prototype is denigrated as narcissistic. Buddhist Tantra provides a template: ultimate reality is seen as emptiness (the radical inaccessibility of things) in sexual union with appearance (their shimmering givenness), different but the same.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Now You Can Read My Dialogue with Björk

Thanks to Ashleigh Kane at Dazed and Confused magazine. We both decided it would be awesome to share the emails.

When you read them, you get to see sentences that intertwine a bit like tendrils, putting out little experimental shoots. It was incredibly easy to work together, because I think we're both attuners rather than demagogues.

What I mean by “attuners” is like what Heidegger says when he argues that listening is the basis of rhetoric. Listening, “quietness” is also the basis of music. Writing is a mode of reading. Improvisation is kinda like reading too, more than just splurging out any old thing, out of yourself and yourself alone. You are attending to the others playing with you.

Unafraid of making mistakes and being vulnerable in front of others.

Maybe the key word to sum all that up is wonderment, which is the basic philosophical tuning (Plato, Theaetetus) and, to me, the basic flavor of Björk's art.

Exploring the Excluded Middle zone between categorical statements and just doodling. Between saying a lemon pie is a lemon pie, and saying a lemon pie is the Pope. I think that's great because Björk likes to explore Excluded Middle zones in her writing too. She likes to show you the wiring under the board of an emotion, sort of like how Kristeva talks about the semiotic versus the thetic. I feel x versus Every day I walk towards the edge and throw little things off like car parts, bottles and cutlery...I imagine what my body would sound like, slammin against those rocks, and when it lands will my eyes be closed or open?

And erring on the lemon pie = Pope side of the equation, hahaha. It also doesn't hurt that we have the same whimsical slightly out-of-control sense of humor.

Two introverts growing little shoots in the undergrowth of wonderment...and preserving them for others. The more I think about it the more I think that was a really really good idea.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Another Dark Ecological Amuse-Bouche

Anatomy of ecognosis. Ecological awareness is like a chocolate with concentric layers. In the spirit of René Wellek I have mapped these layers in an absurdly New Critical way like some kind of cross between a Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master and Northrop Frye. Like Donna Haraway, I believe in the affective power of old-fashioned kitschy theory objects like the Greimasian logic square she dusts off. I’m calling ecological awareness a chocolate in part to provoke the standard reactions: chocolate, sugar, addiction, bad! And to blend that chocolate with ecology (saintly, good, just) in a perverse way.

Each descending layer of the chocolate is a more accurate attunement to the basic anxiety inherent in sentient attunement to things, itself a symptom of the inner inconsistency that marks existence (and coexistence). Machination ruins Earth and its lifeforms, yet it supplies the equipment necessary for human seeing at geotemporal scales sufficient for ecological awareness. We reach for the chocolate because we already attune to the anxiety provoked by this ironic loop of revealing. Something is wrong; our normal machinations (mental and physical) are interrupted or disturbed. We need a piece of chocolate. This is special chocolate, however, that doesn’t block anxiety. The basic mode of ecological awareness is anxiety, the feeling that things have lost their seemingly original significance, the feeling that something creepy is happening, close to home. Through anxiety reason itself begins to glimpse what indigenous—that is, pre-agricultural—societies have known all along: that humans coexist with a host of nonhumans. For reason itself reveals itself to be at least a little bit nonhuman. In turn, reason discovers global warming, the miasma for which humans are responsible. Through reason we find ourselves not floating blissfully in outer space, but caught like Jonah in the whale of a gigantic object, the biosphere. Such an object is not reducible to its members, nor its members to it; it is a set whose members are not strictly coterminous with itself.

How to Play Bass

...courtesy of Jeff Berlin.


Say "I'm not happy with the Anthropos of the Anthropocene" One More Time: More Dark Ecology

Fourthly, some of us are anxious that Anthropocene is hubristic, elevating the human species by assuming it has godlike powers to shape the planet. This is, on the face of it, infuriating—unfortunately not all humanists feel infuriated, trained as they are to suspect anything with “human” in it (in particular the Greek for man) and anything that seems like upstart straightforwardness, like using “we” in a lecture just because you think it might draw people together (wait a minute). But consider how it would sound as a rather eyebrow-raising defense. Say I caused a car accident that killed your parents and your best friend. In court, I argue that it would be hubristic to blame myself. It wasn't really me, it was my right arm, it was the bad part of my personality, it was my car. Eyebrow-raising, and perfectly isomorphic with one mode of reactionary global warming denial: how dare we assume that much power over Nature! Now imagine that I represent the human species in a court in which many lifeforms are deciding who caused global warming. Imagine the “hubris” defense: “It would be hubristic of me to take full responsibility—after all, it's mostly the fault of this bad aspect of me, it was just an accident, I wouldn't have done it if I'd been riding a bike rather then using an engine…”

The fact that humans really have become a geophysical force on a planetary scale doesn't seem to prevent the anxious spirits from accusing the term of hubris. Quibbling over terminology is a sad symptom of the extremes to which correlationism has been taken. Upwardly reducing things to effects of history or discourse or whatever has resulted in a fixation on labels, so that using Anthropocene means you haven't done the right kind of reducing. But what if you are not in the upward reduction business? Scientists would be perfectly happy to call the era Eustacia or Ramen, as long as we agreed it meant humans became a geological force on a planetary scale. Don't like the word Anthropocene? Fine. Don't like the idea that humans are a geophysical force? Not so fine. But the two are confused in critiques of “the anthropos of the Anthropocene.” Consider that the term deploys the concept species as something unconscious, never totally explicit. No one decided in 1790 to wreck the planet by emitting carbon dioxide and related gases. Moreover, what is called human is more like a clump or assemblage of things that are not strictly humans—without human DNA for instance—and things that are—things that do have human DNA. Humans did it, not jellyfish and not computers. But humans did it with the aid of beings that they treated as prostheses: nonhumans such as engines, factories, cows, and computers—let alone viral ideas about agricultural logistics living rent-free in minds. The reduction of lifeforms to prosthesis and the machination of agricultural logistics is hubristic, and tragedy (from which the term hubris derives) is at least the initial mode of ecological awareness. But this doesn't mean we are arrogant to think so.

Marx Brothers Upside Down: Another Dark Ecology Snip

But what if appearance were inextricable from essence? If such an entwining were thinkable, one could reverse the joke often cited by Slavoj Žižek. Žižek likes to point out how existing or being—or whatever that is—is strangely supplementary to appearing. The Marx Brothers joke serves well to point this out: Chicolini may look like an idiot and act like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you—he really is an idiot. But what if it were also possible to make the joke upside down? Chicolini may actually be an idiot, but don’t let that fool you—he looks like an idiot and acts like an idiot. If you think that is funny—and that the reversal is funny—you might be ready to allow for appearing to be looped with being in the way dark ecology wants it to be.

Why Aren't You Here Doing This?

Namely, at the Whitechapel Gallery (great gallery) looking at the Hollow Earth by Emilija Škarnulytė and Tanya Busse. It's got the Arctic, it's got drills, it's got crystals. It's got ecological violence. It's got the absence of propaganda. In short, it's got dark ecology. And it's incredibly beautifully made. Lapidary is a word that comes to mind. Geological. What on earth else could one wish for?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Here Comes a Dark Ecology Snippet about Capitalism

“Capitalist economics is also an anthropocentric practice that has no easy way to factor in the very things that ecological thought and politics require: nonhuman beings and unfamiliar timescales. Considering public policy at timescales sufficient to include global warming, economic theory tends to throw up its hands and say, “This doesn’t fit our science”—well duh. What is really meant here is “This doesn’t effect our interpretation of data given that, unlike a physicist, we are unwilling to notice that we may suffer from confirmation bias.” Or consider the argument within economics that depression about ecological issues is dangerous or absurd or impossible—how it can be all three without being a politicized pseudotarget eludes me, but the idea is again that “the science” doesn’t justify it: why on Earth would anyone want to impose a tax on goods entering or leaving the country unless one were some kind of “authoritarian” hostile to “free trade?” Such reasoning is deaf to the nonhumans whose inclusion in thought compels one to think about, for example, minimizing or changing one’s energy use, perhaps by taxing things that have to travel a long way. Psychology and economics, “sciences” closest to humans, are, not surprisingly, deeply anthropocentric and unwilling to consider that they may be caught in hermeneutical loops.”

More Peeks at Dark Ecology

“There are some substitutes for the term Anthropocene. For instance, I have been advised to call it Homogenocene. But this is just a euphemism. Homogenocene is true: humans have stamped their impression on things they consider as ductile as wax, even if those things cry. Yet, in a more urgent sense, the concept is false and anthropocentric. The iron deposits in Earth’s crust made by bacteria are also homogeneous. Oxygen, caused by an unintended consequence of bacterial respiration, is a homogeneous part of the air. Humans are not the only homogenizers. Likewise, Latour’s suggestion that we call it the Capitalocene misses the mark. Capital and capitalism are symptoms of the problem, not its direct causes. If the cause were capitalism, then Soviet and Chinese carbon emissions would have added nothing to global warming. Even the champion of distributed agency balks at calling a distributed spade a distributed spade.”

Are You a Witch?

I hope you are. If you are, then you're going to enjoy Dark Ecology. A lot.

My New Idea

A new idea a day keeps the doctor away!

This is a beginning exploration from Dark Ecology:

“The holism in which the whole is greater than sum of its parts depends on some (false) concept of smooth, homogeneous universality or space or infinity. It depends, in short, on a Euclidean anthropocentric geometry. Since they do not fit into the quaint category of space, what hyperobjects reveal to us humans is that the whole is always weirdly less than the sum of its parts. Take the new cities springing up, megacities such as Houston. For architects and urban planners, megacities are hard to conceptualize: where do they start and stop? Can one even point to them in a straightforward way? And isn’t it strange that entities so obviously gigantic and so colossally influential on their surroundings and economies worldwide should be so hard to point to? The fact that we can’t point to megacities is deeply because we’ve been looking in the wrong place for wholes. We keep wondering when the pieces will add up to something much greater. But now that we are truly aware of the global (as in global warming), we know that a megacity is a place among places, that is to say a finitude that contains all kinds of other finitudes, fragile and contingent. Like Doctor Who’s TARDIS, it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Places contain multitudes.”

Tilting and Dragging

“Labour could have tilted to the center, but in fact they are being dragged to the left.” Said on the BBC radio 4 Today show this morning.

If you aren't sure this is biased imagine changing the verbs:

“Labour could have been dragged to the center, but in fact they are tilting to the left.”

This together with four uses of the adjective “hard” to describe “left.”

In the early 80s “hard” would be next to “right,” just a couple of years into Thatcherism.

Austerity would easily have been seen as hard right.

Total 180 of BBC opinion/propaganda in my lifetime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Should Extremism Be a Crime? Or Is That Going Too Far?

...haha...

I doubt David Cameron will define austerity as a form of extremism. It should be.

Dark Ecology Epigraphs

Progress means: humanity emerges from its spellbound state no longer under the spell of progress as well, itself nature, by becoming aware of its own indigenousness to nature and by halting the mastery over nature through which nature continues its mastery. --Adorno [I've been trying to figure out what he means for about twenty years...]

Dark is dangerous. You can’t see anything in the dark, you’re afraid. Don’t move, you might fall. Most of all, don’t go into the forest. And so we have internalized this horror of the dark. --Cixous

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mega Review of Shaviro's Speculative Realism on 7.28

...it will be in the LA Review of Books and I like Shaviro's book so much, I've written a piece that could be some kind of foreword to the whole project, I feel. Or afterword. It's mostly for people who have never yet heard of speculative realism (do they exist?), with some familiar faces showing up too.

The nice thing about LARB is that it's fully available online, so stand by. It's the big big picture of the big big picture. Shaviro's book puts you in that kind of mood.

Separated at Birth

Scott Walker
Sid Vicious



Sunday, July 19, 2015

What It Feels Like Over Here Right Now

Josh Marshall nails it. Some of us were always aware that timing was essential to politics, just as it is with thought and with comedy, and very likely for the same reasons. I've been having these conversation with Jón Gnarr about it, Jón being a fantastic playwright and fantastic comedian, and the erstwhile fantastic mayor of Reykjavik who is now making a comedy series about being the mayor of Reykjavik...

So some of us were less hysterical these last few years than the Huffington hand wringers. That part hasn't been much fun.

The Obsession with Obsession

The paradox is that T.M. Luhrmann (“The Anxious Americans,” July 19) reproduces the syndrome she identifies as a problem: the American obsession with emotional life and the idea that it needs to be drastically changed. In her case, the target is identified as a cultural concept, and the magic bullet she implies is getting rid of that cultural concept. But the real problem might be treating things (from emotions to terrorism) as objects that can be altered with a magic bullet. 

Professor Luhrmann’s essay retweets the idea that we Westerners are special (in this case, specially dysfunctional). Her argument is tantamount to saying that it’s not anxiety, but the very idea of inner life at all (hence psychoanalysis and other Western “developments”) that is “bad.” That sounds familiar: here is an anomaly, so let’s eliminate it. How’s that been working out so far?

Being obsessed with identifying an anomaly that we must eliminate also lurks behind an obsession with this obsession.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Copy editing Dark Ecology

Like everything else recently on this book, it's turning out to be a very pleasant experience. I did enough work on the final draft to make sure there were next to no mistakes. And now I've worked through the more basic stuff and the queries, I get a chance to add and change things.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rhetorical Blunders

Pay attention, Euro-Thatcherites of Germany:

Your propaganda has clearly been sinking in to the ordinary folks on the street.

You really, really, really don'r want your rhetoric to be saying “We poor northern victims of these cancerous ['cancerous' an actual phrase used] nation on the doorstep of the Middle East, corrupted by semitic religion [aka the Ottoman empire] and Catholicism [that too sensual southern religion], bleeding us of all our precious money!"

Otherwise this kind of thing starts to happen.

Economics Trumping Politics

...and this BBC opinion piece is painfully laughable:

"But the point about this deal is - once again in the eurozone, it was a case of politics trumping economics.

"The desire to keep the eurozone together was stronger (for now) than the economic forces threatening to pull it apart."

That's exactly what didn't happen. A blind religion of economics and a non-elected body or three trumped any sense of democracy.

The Germans could easily have dropped the false economic concept. One detail today is that they are hiding behind "rules"--they are reluctant to use the mechanism described to save Greece, and the reason given is "the rules won't allow it."

So change the rules. It is called politics.

Unless the BBC means using economics as a political weapon, it is as usual in this case totally upside down. Weapon aka "the economic forces threatening to tear it apart" aka the hubris of Germany.

Why? Because they have to mock the euro at the back of every sentence on Europe. Why? Because Cameron is threatening to axe the BBC.

Don't pin the tragedy tail on the wrong donkey BBC.

What the editorial is in fact implying is: "If we Brits had been in charge, we would've punished Greece even worse."

See--Britain didn't need a Nazi party. It was already #1 in world domination. Any excuse to clobber the Germans--from a position to the right of them.




Mockery

BBC--it's not Tispras whom the IMF is mocking. It is Germany.

See? Tactics. Don't shoot the messenger.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tactics 2

Syriza validated my intuition on BBC radio 4 today: there is a "the whole world is watching" vibe going on for sure. Italy and France have become positively alarmed. And there was a very fierce discussion about it all on NPR today: the opinionators were center left and left. No Thatcherites in evidence at all. Thatcherite callers got short shrift. Even the Today show on Radio 4 have started weirding out about it. The non-austerity academic economics view, fully politicized, is now being given air time without ridicule.'

This is far from over.

Imagine this Sentence

“9/11 was an isolated incident of arson.”

Now compare it with these sentences.

Thatcher Wins

...really, really big. I can't quite believe the irony, which would be delicious if it were not so painful. Here it is:

Mrs. Thatcher's dream, which was to destroy socialist Europe--the dream for which she was prepared to quit being Prime Minister (and she really liked being Prime Minister)--has been fulfilled. Fulfilled by a European country. Fulfilled, in fact, by the European country whose mission was to bring everyone into closer political union via the backdoor of monetary union. The nation whose European ambitions were roundly opposed and associated with the ambitions of the past (WW2, WW1), by the Prime Minister who most channeled Churchill.

In brief:

Germany has done what Mrs. Thatcher only dreamed of.

Why Bees?

They are symptomatic of the murder-suicide culture created by the 12 000 year execution of the agrilogistical program. When they are finally wiped out by the "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" dynamic that has created DNA with pesticides in it, what will happen? (He asked, knowing what will happen.)

Like cats, they show up in the Excluded Middle zone, aka reality, the zone between rigid categories of Nature and Culture, to do the actual work (pollinating, killing rats) that keep the system working. They are uninvited participants, unlike the beings we have turned into prosthetic enhancements of agrilogistics (known as "cattle" or "chattel" or "capital"--same word, how cool is that?).

Cattle are protected insofar as they are property.

Bees and cats embarrass the anthropocentrism of agrilogistics and the rigid boundaries. As Derrida points out, the job of deconstruction is to multiply differences and show how the boundary region is neither thin nor rigid. Bees and cats have done that all by themselves. They are the intraterrestrial aliens; why else do pop culture aliens have insect or cat eyes?

Bees respond to the aesthetic display of flowers. They are part of the really "expensive" (from DNA's point of view) distributed dynamics of sexual display...defying the Easy Think way agrilogistics has separated appearing from being.

In other words bees are in fact not strictly analogies for hierarchical utilitarian agrilogistical society, as they so often are made to be.

One almost begins to wonder that they have been put in that conceptual box precisely to police how they show up on the agrilogistical radar.


Actions Pertaining to Bees

The Saving America's Pollinators Act is working its way through Congress.

Central Texas Bee Rescue.

The Honeybee Conservancy (mostly to do with NYC apiaries).

Come on kids, anyone got any more verses?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Insta-Affect: The New Age of Sensibility

Yes, that's right. Everyone's partying like it's 1779. For someone who cut their intellectual teeth studying that period, it's deja-vu all over again.

It kinda proves the point I keep making, that we are still stuck in that period, trying to find exits, without studying the ways in which most exits were tried between then and about 1832.

[talkin about white Western culture here]

Sensibility is an almost perfect eighteenth-century version of what scholars now call affect, which is like emotion only you're really not in charge of it at all, and it isn't really you. Putting your hands in the air and waving them like you just don't care. It's like the way your nerves shudder...they discovered the nervous system and invented this whole culture and aesthetics and politics out of it...

Affect is sensibility with a different vocabulary. John Hartley and David Hume versus Deleuze et al.

This is the kind of thing that the Romantics were rebelling against. It's not true to think that they were into being swamped by insta-affect. Wordsworth thought that was basically oppressive, tyrannical overstimulation. The whole idea of those guys was to introduce some hesitation, some reflection.

And to go “You want to contact the other? You want to identify with suffering people? All right--let's do it.” And then writing poems about identifying with mentally disabled people, absolutely destitute vagabonds, murderers, and so on...

You think politics should be based on sympathy? Let's go...

The insta-affect religion believes, like Rousseau, that a gigantic swell of emotion, re-tweeted as rapidly as possible, amplified by the number of shuddering bodies, is democracy in action. He wasn't quite right. Just ask Goebbels.

William Blake: PITY WOULD BE NO MORE, IF WE DID NOT MAKE SOMEBODY POOR.

It's pretty obvious to figure out what he meant in the cases of feminism (he was a friend of Mary Wollstonecraft), animal rights (he wrote a lot about it) and anti-slavery (and that too).

Version 1: There is a power relationship: the pitied thing, and the pitier.
Version 2: We must all be feeling the same vibe--to be transparent to one another, a gigantic sea of easy to identify insta-affect.

Those might not be the same thing as solidarity, he understated.

For instance: if you really hate (rather than say you hate) politicians who keep doubling down on being "right" when evidently they're so wrong, you might want to scrub Version 2 from your wish list. You get the politicians you deserve.

Romantic art is all about being wrong, beautifully. Realizing that there has been some kind of mistake. That there is a crack in the real. And so on...

That doesn't mean it doesn't care. It means it cares even more. When you get really up close to something, it stops looking like that something. A rock-face. An idiot. An emotion. Ever had that feeling of unreality when you're having a car accident?


I Think It Happened in about 2001

The idea that the internet was a libertarian freedom space where you could be anything was a charming illusion. Now that everyone has it, roughly, it reveals itself as a space where you can't be anyone or anything, at all.

Is this a temporary or permanent feature?

Unwritten Rules of The Young Curmudgeons: A Series of Impossible Demands

WARNING [unbelievably one has to issue one, see below]: the following words are ventriloquism with extra added unconscious stuff rendered as speech. The interesting question is, who or what is being ventriloquized?

If you have a child, it means you might spend up to forty five minutes not surfing the web with your credit card, as you cuddle. It also means you might hesitate a crucial three seconds  before you buy something, wondering whether it's safe or not, and that's time wasted from a strictly market penetration point of view.

Taking your time is not allowed. There must be insta-affect, not thought. Scholarship agrees. There must be huge, autistic swarms of sensation that pull us into gigantic flocks of birds twittering rape threats or “I am [suffering person].”

Everyone now gets to be an objectified woman. Unlike in the 70s, where a woman and a man became indistinguishable owing to long hair, such that in the words of my very sexist high school English teacher “A woman is just a man with a [xxxx],” now in effect a man is just a woman with a [xxxx]. Everyone gets to be equal, insofar as everyone gets to be their own paparazzo.

All men must shave all pubic hair, and not look at anyone [viz. this actual hilariously self-defeating article headline from Huffington Post a few weeks ago]: MY BIKINI TOP HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.

Remove all traces of sex hormones. But don't waste time not always sexually displaying in the most aggressive way possible. Warn everyone not to look as you do it.

Never trust anyone over thirty, not because they conform, but because they do not conform. For instance, some men may still have pubic hair.

Don't dare look at anything, especially not lingeringly. Do display everything of yourself to everyone everywhere, all the time.

Down with marriage and parenting--because you can't afford them and they take time. Remember, you are totally free--to obey our thirst for the giant waves of insta-affect.

The body is an unformatted surface waiting for me to do whatever you think you want to it, and preferably you should wish to be photographed having done that. And this is post-patriarchal.

Do not hesitate. Do not linger. Do not see the irony. Prevent every chance of ever seeing how irony and love can bend into one another, and be the same thing.

Write off these paragraphs as symptoms of an old curmudgeon.


Genius

The Onion likes to focus on micro moments that are full of significance. This is a perfect one.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ever Heard of Tactics?

The hysterical hand wringing on the tabloid mild left of center ("What has Tsipras done?!?!") is a symptom of our superego-positive twittered age where mass sensibility and insta-affect is the rule.

The whole point is that the absurd Euro-Thatcherites are going to reject the deal. The whole world is now watching because of the referendum. Many people will justifiably go "What...??" as they watch the Euro-Thatcherites rejecting a deal proffered after the Greeks voted NO. "Look--our people voted no, and I even went against them, and you still reject us?"

The Euro-Thatcherites are being played. It's awesome that they don't notice yet, but that's their hubris isn't it?

"Varoufakis asked Lagarde pointedly whether the IMF believed that the Greek debt was sustainable. When she began to mumble an answer, the Dutchman interrupted her and pronounced: "Don't answer; this is a take it or leave it proposition." Don Corleone as the face of plutocratic Europe.

"The answer is "No" according to the IMF's own experts whose analysis was leaked last Thursday. The back story is that the IMF staff has come to recognize the illogicality of the EU's austerity strategy but has been muffled by the leadership. Lagarde is a corporate lawyer who never studied economics. In the early 2000s she threaded her way into conservative political circles in France and held a couple of low level ministerial jobs. Sarkozy, the embodiment of American style neoliberalism, chose her to be Minister of Finance. When Strauss-Kahn, the alleged sex offender, lost control in a Manhattan hotel room, the French claimed the position as their own." --from this

Unbelievably on the BBC they are saying “Well, maybe politics will kick in once the Euro-Thatcherites realize Greece's exit will destroy Europe.” You don't say. Actually, this is a symptom of how blinded by their religion they are--they have to let it get to this before they might (according to the BBC) turn their mind to what's actually going on. But they won't, I bet.

Beeing and Time

Everybody do something nice for bees, now.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Varoufakis

"Varoufakis is a very different commodity. He is made of much sterner stuff -- intellectually, emotionally and morally. He has a powerful personality and is utterly fearless. That was why he so thoroughly alienated the Troika and the German leaders: Merkel and Schauble. He frightened them. His economic logic was irrefutable; he stuck the numbers under their noses; he exposed the larger scheme -- the neoliberal crusade -- that underlay the unbridled attack on all the debtor countries; he has no overriding desire for the trappings of authority; and has a strong moralist streak. Smarter and tougher than Greece's adversaries, he had to be gotten rid of. Tsipras acquiesced."

From this: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7769474

Psychosis and Excluded Middles

New research: when you smoke you might not yet have psychosis. People with psychosis smoke. More people who smoked before psychosis [was diagnosed nb] had psychosis (57%).Therefore smoking might cause psychosis.

See the flaw that turns the correlation into a cause? It has to do with the tendency to be black and white, without shades of grey (following the logical "law" of the excluded middle, which can be a big problem in Western logic).

First there is a confusion of phenomena and thing. "Having psychosis" actually means "being diagnosed with psychosis." You can be diagnosed while you are having it, which means that you already had it. So the fact that you are smoking when you are diagnosed proves nothing.

Then there is the black and white thinking. Either cigarettes cause psychosis, or they medicate psychosis. Since people with psychosis were already smoking, cigarettes must have caused psychosis. But remember, they "have" psychosis in the sense that they have been seen to have psychosis.

See the problem? Psychology scholars are the last to admit confirmation bias, namely the fact that we are all correlationists, more or less, and that science works that way.

I know people with psychosis. Like my brother. He was diagnosed with psychosis at a certain point. But he was building up to it for years and years. And was perhaps smoking to self-medicate, for instance to control the anxiety. Before he was diagnosed.

Assuming psychosis actually exists...

Anyway, whatever is happening, there are shades of it. You can be more or less psychotic. You can become very upset, then you can become psychotically upset as a defense against how upset you are. You smoke to plug the hole in your being. This hole was already there--in fact you know, if you follow someone like Heidegger, that you kind of are that hole, so the possibility of wanting to plug it with something (a fantastic job, a cigarette, suicide) is quite high.

Come on, scientists! This is a classic example of how an old not well proved logical "law" is screwing you.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mark Your Dark Calendars

For the book will appear on APRIL FOOL'S DAY....

Hahahaha!

New Horizons Pluto Flyby

Uncannily it began yesterday, which was the first day I looked into Richard Grossinger's Pluto book...

More on the Pluto Book

...next week, the New Horizons space probe will reach Pluto. So now is a great time to get this book, you will read things you've never thought of before. The astronomical history of Pluto alone is fascinating.

Staying Alive: The New British National "Living" Wage

Who did Osborne hire to calculate it? Agamben?

Should be called the Bare Living Wage, no?

"The Living Wage: Because Living, No Matter What the Quality, Is the Name of the Game."

The phrase has been nicked from a movement that started in the USA to pay people more than just a minimum wage. Nicked and redefined. Like Cameron's use of "progressive" in 2010 (does anyone remember that?).

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Story of O(OO)

This just happened in NYC and I had no idea! But luckily Lynn Randolph's husband just interviewed me (fantastically well) and he told me all about it.

If you don't know Lynn Randolph's work--but you do: she's on the cover of Donna Haraway's Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. And Jeffrey Kripal uses her work all over the place in his new must have textbook.

Mellower

Last year I gave 19 lectures and published 22 essays. The summer was a bit stress because of that.

This year it's 14 lectures and 12 essays so far. There is a noticeably huge drop off in the work. Last year this time it was proof read, copy edit, write, edit, respond to report, proof read, write, compose lecture, give lecture, copy edit etc etc etc...and that's not counting the books!

"It is a powerful hyperobject": Pluto

What a good book this is. Crammed with history, science, philosophy, speculation, mysticism, you name it. It's been published to commemorate the arrival at Pluto of the New Horizons probe.

One of the great features is that the editor, Richard Grossing, asked us to list ten things we would like to or expect to find on Pluto. The lists are like poems and they are whimsical, profound and revealing.

Along with my list of things I'd like to find, there's something by me in it called “The End of the World.”

That phrase in the post title is from the blurb.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Propaganda

Scotland vote for independence: 45% yes, 55% no.
BBC: “A clear majority...puts the debate to an end.”

Greek vote to accept more austerity: 60% no, 40% yes.
BBC: “A deeply divided country.”

...and now I've heard it all...

BBC Radio 4, you just quoted the dominant (Thatcherite, austerity-addicted) political class of the Baltic in support of the status quo against those "stupid" southern people who might be tainted by the "middle East."

I had an awesome lunch with the finance minister of Lithuania (thanks to Gediminas, our architectural host! Hi! Learning Lithuanian--really badly!) in which he couldn't have made it clearer that he was a philistine no-nothing with an axe, and I in turn made it quite clear exactly why austerity was the daftest and most destructive drill bit of a daft destructive system. Difficult even in that situation to speak up: it gets a bit personal when you're having to tell someone to their face...and you have passion...

Can you imagine a US senator, even a Republican one, saying “There are too many universities” at a university? Even if you believe it, you don't say it out loud, dude.

Are You Getting It Now, Europe? Austerity is WRONG

Britain: the fact that Osborne is still at it, trying to cut his way to growth, is evidence of his failure not his success (pace BBC radio 4).

Not only has Greece stood up to what amounts to a gigantic religious cult--very difficult to be the different one in a crowded room--it has stood up to a zombie idea, which shambles about of its own accord: “austerity,” based on a mistake in processing an Excel file.

Racists in charge of Northern Europe: stop it. It's quite clear from this far away that there is a not so great shadow looming, for instance the idea that Germany is more authentically European than Greece (where have we heard that before?).

Greece: you are already issuing IOUs. Those are in effect a non-Euro currency. Just give them a different name (like “drachma”) and Bob's your uncle. Sure from the point of view of some technocrat addicted to austerity it may look chaotic, but it's better than another lost decade, and complete confusion for the brain addled north.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thank Heavens

“we have just witnessed Greece stand up to a truly vile campaign of bullying and intimidation, an attempt to scare the Greek public, not just into accepting creditor demands, but into getting rid of their government. It was a shameful moment in modern European history, and would have set a truly ugly precedent if it had succeeded.

“But it didn’t.” --Paul Krugman

Put That In Your Austerity Pipe and Smoke It

Byron, “The Isles of Greece.” Byron knew a thing or two about Greek liberation. He fought and died in the Greek War of Independence.

THE isles of Greece! the isles of Greece 
  Where burning Sappho loved and sung, 
Where grew the arts of war and peace, 
  Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung! 
Eternal summer gilds them yet,         5
But all, except their sun, is set. 
 
The Scian and the Teian muse, 
  The hero's harp, the lover's lute, 
Have found the fame your shores refuse: 
  Their place of birth alone is mute  10
To sounds which echo further west 
Than your sires' 'Islands of the Blest. 
 
The mountains look on Marathon— 
  And Marathon looks on the sea; 
And musing there an hour alone,  15
  I dream'd that Greece might still be free; 
For standing on the Persians' grave, 
I could not deem myself a slave. 
 
A king sate on the rocky brow 
  Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;  20
And ships, by thousands, lay below, 
  And men in nations;—all were his! 
He counted them at break of day— 
And when the sun set, where were they? 
 
And where are they? and where art thou,  25
  My country? On thy voiceless shore 
The heroic lay is tuneless now— 
  The heroic bosom beats no more! 
And must thy lyre, so long divine, 
Degenerate into hands like mine?  30
 
'Tis something in the dearth of fame, 
  Though link'd among a fetter'd race, 
To feel at least a patriot's shame, 
  Even as I sing, suffuse my face; 
For what is left the poet here?  35
For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear. 
 
Must we but weep o'er days more blest? 
  Must we but blush?—Our fathers bled. 
Earth! render back from out thy breast 
  A remnant of our Spartan dead!  40
Of the three hundred grant but three, 
To make a new Thermopylæ! 
 
What, silent still? and silent all? 
  Ah! no;—the voices of the dead 
Sound like a distant torrent's fall,  45
  And answer, 'Let one living head, 
But one, arise,—we come, we come!' 
'Tis but the living who are dumb. 
 
In vain—in vain: strike other chords; 
  Fill high the cup with Samian wine!  50
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes, 
  And shed the blood of Scio's vine: 
Hark! rising to the ignoble call— 
How answers each bold Bacchanal! 
 
You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet;  55
  Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone? 
Of two such lessons, why forget 
  The nobler and the manlier one? 
You have the letters Cadmus gave— 
Think ye he meant them for a slave?  60
 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! 
  We will not think of themes like these! 
It made Anacreon's song divine: 
  He served—but served Polycrates— 
A tyrant; but our masters then  65
Were still, at least, our countrymen. 
 
The tyrant of the Chersonese 
  Was freedom's best and bravest friend; 
That tyrant was Miltiades! 
  O that the present hour would lend  70
Another despot of the kind! 
Such chains as his were sure to bind. 
 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine! 
  On Suli's rock, and Parga's shore, 
Exists the remnant of a line  75
  Such as the Doric mothers bore; 
And there, perhaps, some seed is sown, 
The Heracleidan blood might own. 
 
Trust not for freedom to the Franks— 
  They have a king who buys and sells;  80
In native swords and native ranks 
  The only hope of courage dwells: 
But Turkish force and Latin fraud 
Would break your shield, however broad. 
 
Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!  85
  Our virgins dance beneath the shade— 
I see their glorious black eyes shine; 
  But gazing on each glowing maid, 
My own the burning tear-drop laves, 
To think such breasts must suckle slaves.  90
 
Place me on Sunium's marbled steep, 
  Where nothing, save the waves and I, 
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep; 
  There, swan-like, let me sing and die: 
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine—  95
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine! 
 

The View from the BBC

"In the northwestern corner of Europe it's okay to say No and renegotiate all the terms of membership.

"In the southeastern corner, it isn't."




Opening Theme Tune

...for a pic having to do with anyone from my generation in the mid-eighties. Peter's Friends used “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” which is roughly contemporary with this one. But this one, someone, nails it for people a bit younger than Stephen Fry's generation. Uncanny to see now the grey puce world of Thatcher's Britain imposed everywhere, even by the finance people of Germany of all places, against whom Thatcher was determined to stand later on.

Waterloo Station and the Embankment--used to walk there every day, in the holidays, and every day at the weekend in any case. Genius German synthpop divided by a deadpan queer version of “Rapture” (not sure about that “Message” allusion Wikipedia) about what is now called neoliberalism, I feel, a competitive war of all against all, and the weird melancholic pleasures therein. The suicidal feeling invoked in lines one and two...

Like, okay, the hairdos are a bit different, and there are uncannily fewer people--but what's more uncanny his how it isn't different...

That walkway, by which you can get to the South Bank Centre--it's like the Pet Shop Boys' version of the railings from which the Beatles are looking down on the covers of the compilation album...

I remember thinking at the time that this was a song different from the ones I'd heard around it, somehow ultra definitive of something big.

 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Greece: NO is better by far than YES

One of the great risks if the Greek public votes yes — that is, votes to accept the demands of the creditors, and hence repudiates the Greek government’s position and probably brings the government down — is that it will empower and encourage the architects of European failure. The creditors will have demonstrated their strength, their ability to humiliate anyone who challenges demands for austerity without end. And they will continue to claim that imposing mass unemployment is the only responsible course of action.

What if Greece votes no? This will lead to scary, unknown terrain. Greece might well leave the euro, which would be hugely disruptive in the short run. But it will also offer Greece itself a chance for real recovery. And it will serve as a salutary shock to the complacency of Europe’s elites.

Or to put it a bit differently, it’s reasonable to fear the consequences of a “no” vote, because nobody knows what would come next. But you should be even more afraid of the consequences of a “yes,” because in that case we do know what comes next — more austerity, more disasters and eventually a crisis much worse than anything we’ve seen so far. --- Paul Krugman

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Fish

Not ready to talk about this yet.


"We Don't Know What Percentage"

This is the new right wing tactic: "We don't know what percentage is caused by humans." Actually we do. Quite precisely.

Pretty much 100% of it. (Animated graph.)

"We don't know what percentage" buffs the "skeptical" image. The patina of an intelligent lack of certainty.

Just before this, it was "I'm no scientist," which appeals to anti-intellectualism ("I'm not one of those nerds") and effects humility.

What will it be next? Let's anticipate, defang, and prevent.


"Climate Change Skeptic"

Can we stop using this phrase to refer to denialists?

A skeptic is someone who doubts something. Not someone who doesn't believe in something.

Skepticism sounds clever (because it alludes to a philosophical position). Global warming denial is not clever.

"Skeptic" sounds like "I have read and assessed and evaluated and carefully parsed." Global warming denial doesn't read.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

...and at least the NSA is good for something

Like showing Merkel was aware that they were saddling Greece with absurd debt.

Stop This Austerity Nonsense

I'm glad it's not just me. How long does a zombie concept based on an error in an Excel file have to stagger on destroying everything in its path before we put a stop to it?

The Last Night

...and speaking of Campagna, if you haven't read this, then you might want to, a lot. It's so lucidly written, and it shares a lot with some of my more recent thoughts. If you look you'll see that there is a new, really well done way of writing left prose. I was blown away by Bifo's new book (pun not intended, oops).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Suicide and Economics

...economics being how you organize your enjoyment. And if it's only organized anthropocentrically, you are limiting it already, right? Anyway, I had written that thing about what Juncker so insensitively said to Greece--given that the actual suicide rate has skyrocketed since “austerity” (which sounds so serious, like the way a sadist looks so serious). Anyway, I had literally just read a sentence or two in Bifo's book Heroes. Have you read it yet? It's really really nice. Anyway, Foxxconn--the factory where the Apple stuff etc. happens and where there is a very large number of suicides. The company tried to prevent the suicides by--guess what--cutting off compensation payments to the families. Their propaganda about it? “Life is precious”--aka you can't even kill yourself, your life is precious to us, we own you.